Sister Jean Barrus Bingham was a child when she first helped “build the Church.” Her father was the bishop when their ward in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was constructing a new meetinghouse in the days when Latter-day Saints contributed to building projects, not only with funds but also manual labor. Children did their part in “building the Church” by picking up debris and sanding some of the wood.
Born in 1952 in Provo, Utah, to Robert and Edith Joy Barrus, she grew up with six sisters and two brothers. The family moved each time her father was transferred because of work promotions. She attended elementary school in Texas and Minnesota, and finished high school in New Jersey. She and her siblings were the only LDS students in their schools until they moved to New Jersey, where she was delighted to discover a girl from her new ward in her freshman class.
Sister Bingham had another opportunity to help “build the Church” when she was a teenager living in New Jersey in 1968 when it was announced that a temple would be built in the Washington D.C. area. “Church leaders were asking for donations,” she said. “I had an after-school job and saved $75 dollars, which I contributed to the building of the temple. I thought jokingly to myself, ‘Maybe when I visit there I’ll have part of a chair.’”
She and her husband, Bruce Bingham, whom she met when they were students at Brigham Young University, were married in December of 1972. After graduation, they moved to Illinois. Living in that part of the United States gave her an opportunity to attend the temple that she, as a teenager, had “helped to build.”
During the years they lived in Illinois and Wisconsin, Church members from the local units…